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William Lobdell | Photo: John Gilhooley | December 6, 2013
Chris Dingman’s the guy pro athletes—And, now, entertainers—call when they need to relocate.
Though a rising corporate marketing and advertising star, Chris Dingman, in his late 20s at the time, kept a watchful eye on entrepreneurial opportunities. A former college football player who had strong ties to the sports world, he began listening to the frustrated accounts of professional athletes and coaches who had to relocate to a new city on the shortest of notices. “I recognized a niche that really needed to be supported,” Dingman says. “I had to take a chance and go with my heart and gut.”
So with $40,000 in savings and no real estate experience, he drew up a business plan and started the Newport Beach-based Dingman Group in 2006 to provide relocation services for sports professionals. To date, he’s had a Hall of Fame relocation career, representing more than 550 athletes and coaches, including clients from the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball (including All-Star Andrew McCutchen). And now, he’s tapping into the entertainment world, helping actors and musicians find new places to call home.
“At a drop of the hat, we have to service their needs,” says Dingman, whether it’s packing up and selling an old property, finding a new home or moving vehicles across the country. He’s developed a team of real estate and relocation professionals across the country to expedite the process.
The 35-year-old bachelor, who surfs in his off-hours, advises rookies to lease during their first season, and he counsels others to look for a permanent home in a community they see themselves settling in long term—not necessarily where they are playing or coaching at the moment.
Starting out, Dingman networked with his old coaches and teammates, most notably NFL All-Pro wide receiver Steve Smith, with whom he’d played at Santa Monica Community College. From there, word-of-mouth and social media marketing brought in additional clients. Now, he says, his new business comes mostly from referrals: “It sounds pretty simple, but it’s hard to do.”
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